Question on stripping for a custom art body

rollingturns

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New to this process, jumping over from tgp. I read through a bunch of threads but still a bit confused. I have a family member who is a artist/painter, and he's agreed to paint a guitar for me. I'm super pumped as his work is very cool and it means a lot to me. It won't be a solid color, but instead a really finely detailed painting done with brushes and paint pens.

I've picked up a cheaper 2007 squier standard in antique burst that I will use for the guitar body. I'm going to take everything off of it, strip down the body, and then prep it and turn it over to him. Then I'll reassemble but customized with new parts (PUPs, tuners, etc.). It's intended to be a super cool art guitar that I can also play at times, but it won't take the place of an everyday guitar for me.

So my questions:
- With this type of repaint, should I strip it bare or should I rough it up and have him paint over the factory paint? Texture is probably not going to be perfectly smooth anyway due to the painting process.
- Can he use his normal art acrylic paints or does he need to use oils? I think acrylics should work.
- I am planning on spraying many coats of poly clearcoat over it. Make sense?
- If he wants to paint the headstock, should I just rough that up and have him paint it? I don't really want to strip that. Getting it perfect between the prepped area that's painted and the naked neck might be tough.
- Anything else different about this compared to a solid color full body paint job?
- anybody ever done a clear pickguard, and how did that turn out?

Thanks. Never done it before and I really don't want to ruin what will be a paint job that I will have quite a bit of emotional attachment too. I really appreciate the help for a nubie.
 
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Boreas

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Welcome aboard!!

To me, much of this depends on the condition of the finish of the donor body. I think the place to start is to have the artist decide his media. Is there much to be gained by stripping it? It is likely poly and very thick - which means very tough and resistant to cracking. The artist may consider this a superior base for his work. Let HIM apply whatever base coats he wishes before he begins his painting.

If the body has some dents and dings, just fill them properly before he begins his base spray. If it is going to be a "busy" paint job, a perfectly smooth base may not be essential.

If the body is beat to bejeezus and a reasonably smooth surface cannot be created, then strip away and start over (to keep cracks and chips from expanding later), keeping in mind many gouges/dents/dings will be into the wood itself and need to be filled.
 
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Peegoo

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@rollingturns

I would fill the dings, sand smooth, and prime/paint with the color coat you want under the artwork. Important: use a flat or matte/satin-finish acrylic enamel color coat because the flat finish provides the best 'tooth' to bond with the acrylic hand work.

Once the artwork is applied, give it at least a week to cure, and then apply a clear acrylic enamel over the entire body. As always, multiple thin coats of clear gets you better results than one or three thick coats.

Acrylic enamel is compatible with artist acrylics; I've had no problems with wrinkling, puckering, etc., doing it this way.

Examples from my shop:

Raven-Tele-Montage.jpg


Cherry-Blossom-Tele.jpg
 

Boreas

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Another thing to consider is how you will USE the guitar. Will it be a wall-hanger, or will it be treated rough? If it will be a wall-hanger, options won't be as critical, and I would just overspray what you have as Peegoo describes. But if you have 10 kids or frequently have to fend off thrown beer bottles with the guitar, you may want to consider "future wear and tear" and how it will look.

If you do a simple light sand/shellac/overspray, the likelihood of chips, scratches, buckle rash, and general wear showing the underlying "burst" increases dramatically. If however you prefer the wear/tear to show raw wood, you will need to start with raw wood. You will need to strip OR...

...just start out with a new, unfinished (but sealed) body and apply your paint job from scratch. Relatively inexpensive unfinished bodies can be had in a wide range of woods, and models, and allows for weight and grain preferences. I am not trying to steer you away from stripping necessarily, but it is not a quick, clean, or easy job. Consider your time and elbow grease an investment if you decide not to overspray.

Keep us posted.
 

rollingturns

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This is great info. Thanks all. If I do decide to sand and prime right on the finish, any recommendations for primer? The nice part about leaving the existing finish in place is that it gives him a really stable canvas to paint on. I don't need the finish to be smooth, but a stable underlying smooth surface makes his work easier.
 

rollingturns

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Thanks to all of you. Will report back. It will be a bit. Probably doing it over the end of year holidays. Also, I've decided I don't love the tremelo. Might be replacing that, which could take a couple minutes to figure out.
 

VintageSG

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Find a company that strips the paint from doors chemically.
It'll save an awful lot of sanding, leaving you to just finish the job. Blank canvas, if you like.
 

Sea Devil

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I recommend against using shellac under the acrylic. Adhesion would be worse than on a scuffed poly finish.
As far as letting the paint dry for ten days... that would have to be a thick impasto, which would be the opposite of what you want on a guitar. You need to make sure that your artist friend resists the urge to be too "painterly" and keeps the paint as flat as possible. Acrylics dry very fast. Two days would be playing it ridiculously safe.
 

Beebe

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Scuff the existing finish with a burgundy abrasive pad. Use little to no pressure and let the pad do the work.

Clean the surface with Naphtha.

Prime the surface. In general, "shellac sticks to everything and everything sticks to shellac," so it's a good primer choice when the other finish types are unknown. But as @Sea Devil said above, there may be better options if the finish types are known.

Shellac is alcohol soluable though, so it would not be a good choice for a canvas if the artist uses alcohol inks.

If you use a white primer and sand it level with something like 800 grit it should provide a paper like surface to work on.

Artists often use gesso to prime their work surfaces. This is a chalk pigment mixed with a binder and solvent (not that different from hardware store primer). So the artist may have a preferred surface type to work on.

If the artist uses oil paints, you'll probably want to wait about a year before clear coating over it depending on how thick it is. It needs time to oxidize.

A traditional clear coat for protecting fine art is Sandarac dissolved in Ethanol. This is the kind of finish that art restoration experts can remove with a q-tip type thing dipped in the Ethanol solvent, and reapply as needed. A platina shellac finish would perform similarly.

If you don't care about ever being able to remove the clear without damaging the artwork below, then a more durable modern finish might be the way to go. Though if you end up with ghosting or witness lines and want to remove the clear to fix it, it might be hard without damaging the artwork below.

You may want to allow the artist to varnish the work themselves. They may be experienced in this and it wouldn't fall on you to not ruin their work with the clear coating.
 

rollingturns

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Scuff the existing finish with a burgundy abrasive pad. Use little to no pressure and let the pad do the work.

Clean the surface with Naphtha.

Prime the surface. In general, "shellac sticks to everything and everything sticks to shellac," so it's a good primer choice when the other finish types are unknown. But as @Sea Devil said above, there may be better options if the finish types are known.

Shellac is alcohol soluable though, so it would not be a good choice for a canvas if the artist uses alcohol inks.

If you use a white primer and sand it level with something like 800 grit it should provide a paper like surface to work on.

Artists often use gesso to prime their work surfaces. This is a chalk pigment mixed with a binder and solvent (not that different from hardware store primer). So the artist may have a preferred surface type to work on.

If the artist uses oil paints, you'll probably want to wait about a year before clear coating over it depending on how thick it is. It needs time to oxidize.

A traditional clear coat for protecting fine art is Sandarac dissolved in Ethanol. This is the kind of finish that art restoration experts can remove with a q-tip type thing dipped in the Ethanol solvent, and reapply as needed. A platina shellac finish would perform similarly.

If you don't care about ever being able to remove the clear without damaging the artwork below, then a more durable modern finish might be the way to go. Though if you end up with ghosting or witness lines and want to remove the clear to fix it, it might be hard without damaging the artwork below.

You may want to allow the artist to varnish the work themselves. They may be experienced in this and it wouldn't fall on you to not ruin their work with the clear coating.

Great stuff. So are you thinking he can prime with gesso directly onto the scuffed up body? He normally preps with gesso, but I just want to make sure it'll adhere to the current poly finish if I sand that down.
 
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Beebe

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Great stuff. So are you thinking he can prime with gesso directly onto the scuffed up body? He normally preps with gesso, but I just want to make sure it'll adhere to the current poly finish if I sand that down.

Maybe. The gesso should be made with a binder that would adhere to the poly.

It would probably depend on what surface type he is used to applying gesso to. If he works with hard surfaces, he may be able to do it. If he works on canvas or paper he may find the gesso sits on the surface showing more brush strokes than he's used to.

I would try to proved a starting point as close to what he is used to.

Most likely he's used to paper, so a primer sanded flat with 800 grit might provide that.

If he works on canvas with a bit more texture, then misting some primer from a spray can over the sanded primer would give you some "dry fall" that could provide a little more tooth for his medium to grab onto.

I'd only do the dry fall thing with an evaporative primer like nitro or shellac where the coats melt into each other.
 

bgmacaw

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I've picked up a cheaper 2007 squier standard in antique burst that I will use for the guitar body. I'm going to take everything off of it, strip down the body, and then prep it and turn it over to him. Then I'll reassemble but customized with new parts (PUPs, tuners, etc.). It's intended to be a super cool art guitar that I can also play at times, but it won't take the place of an everyday guitar for me.

So my questions:
- With this type of repaint, should I strip it bare or should I rough it up and have him paint over the factory paint? Texture is probably not going to be perfectly smooth anyway due to the painting process.
- Can he use his normal art acrylic paints or does he need to use oils? I think acrylics should work.
- I am planning on spraying many coats of poly clearcoat over it. Make sense?
- If he wants to paint the headstock, should I just rough that up and have him paint it? I don't really want to strip that. Getting it perfect between the prepped area that's painted and the naked neck might be tough.
- Anything else different about this compared to a solid color full body paint job?
- anybody ever done a clear pickguard, and how did that turn out?

First of all, a warning about the Squier Standard. The poly finish on these guitars is very tough. I have 2005 model that a previous owner's cat whizzed on and that toxic substance didn't damage the finish at all. It cleaned up really well with no linger odors. This means that stripping it well will be a difficult chore, either using dangerous strippers (I have a chemical burn scar from using this stuff on old furniture) or labor intensive sanding that may damage the wood if you aren't careful. Another factor is that if I remember correctly, the antique burst is a veneer, which might spoil your plans. Wear protective gear and go slow. Or, better yet, just get an unfinished body to apply the artwork to.

Also, on the Standard, the stock pickups are quite good. Don't assume you have to replace them. The same is true of the tuners. The nut slots might need a slight bit of widening if you use heavier strings.

On the painting, I recommend putting down a base primer coat in either black, white or gray unless you want to wood grain to show. The wood grain pattern may not be the best, especially if it was covered by a veneer. The primer coat will provide a good canvas to work with. Acrylic paints should work OK, especially with a compatible primer coat.

On the headstock, what I did on the hydrodipped guitar below was taping off where I wanted the border to be before the dip. After the dip had dried, I taped off a thin border area and painted a black stripe there.

mossykit.png
 

Beebe

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Great stuff. So are you thinking he can prime with gesso directly onto the scuffed up body? He normally preps with gesso, but I just want to make sure it'll adhere to the current poly finish if I sand that down.

Maybe. The gesso should be made with a binder that would adhere to the poly.

It would probably depend on what surface type he is used to applying gesso to. If he works with hard surfaces, he may be able to do it. If he works on canvas or paper he may find the gesso sits on the surface showing more brush strokes than he's used to.

I would try to proved a starting point as close to what he is used to.

Most likely he's used to paper, so a primer sanded flat with 800 grit might provide that.

If he works on canvas with a bit more texture, then misting some primer from a spray can over the sanded primer would give you some "dry fall" that could provide a little more tooth for his medium to grab onto. I'd only do the dry fall thing with an evaporative finish like nitro or shellac where the coats melt into each other.
Maybe. The gesso should be made with a binder that would adhere to the poly.

It would probably depend on what surface type he is used to applying gesso to. If he works with hard surfaces, he may be able to do it. If he works on canvas or paper he may find the gesso sits on the surface showing more brush strokes than he's used to.

I would try to proved a starting point as close to what he is used to.

Most likely he's used to paper, so a primer sanded flat with 800 grit might provide that.

If he works on canvas with a bit more texture, then misting some primer from a spray can over the sanded primer would give you some "dry fall" that could provide a little more tooth for his medium to grab onto.

I'd only do the dry fall thing with an evaporative primer like nitro or shellac where the coats melt into each other.

...and also gesso may not have that much hiding power, as chalk makes a semi transparent white. White primer most likely has Titanium Dioxide pigment which will cover the colors below much better.
 

Sea Devil

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Gesso sounds like a bad idea. I think it will end up being streaky and inconsistent, with visible brush strokes or varying thickness.
 
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hopdybob

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prep the surface with Gesso.
you can use it with acrylic or oil paint.
the last only as wall hanger deco because oil paint does not dry fast and i think is not so durable.
some artists use it on masonite boards they use instead of canvas
 

Sea Devil

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Oil paint is incredibly durable, and gesso is still not a great idea for a base coat. If it's applied in multiple coats and thoroughly sanded it might be good, but otherwise it's prone to the problems mentioned above. I have about 48 years of experience with gesso and oils, in case that helps to make my case.
 




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